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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coffee anyone?

Coffee in Brazil represents more than just a drink in the morning, it represents its wonderful culture and the significant influence of the country’s economy. Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the entire world, growing various bean types such as Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Mundo Novo and Arabica which is the most popular. Even though the coffee grain is not native to Brazil, it was only until 1727 when Francisco de Mello Palheta brought the first bush of coffee into the country that the history of our coffee started. He brought the coffee seeds from Cayenne, French Guiana by persuading a lady to give him some seeds which later changed the history of Brazil forever.

It wasn't only until the beginning of 18th century that coffee started to be planted in Brazilian lands, but only in 1820 it has got some importance, representing 43.8% of our exports, taking Brazil to the international scenery. This commercial rising has provided the appearing of the “Barões do Café” or the Coffee Barons, who were the biggest and most powerful farmers from the southeast of Brazil, more specifically from the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Coffee has become the most important export product in Brazil during the Empire age in the country, and until now it has a significant power in the commercial balance of the country.

Having a coffee is a habit. Wherever you go, the minute you walk in the door, someone will pop the question do you want a coffee? or a cafezinho as we say here, and they won't take no for an answer. Or maybe they won't even ask and the coffee will soon materialize on a tray brought in by someone. In offices they serve coffee to you at your desk, so don't be surprised if in the middle of a business discussion your Brazilian counterpart offers you a coffee too. And, at that point, the conversation may well switch to a non-business topic while you sip your coffee. Or you can go to any bar with a counter in Rio and enjoy your cafezinho in a traditional small cup!!  Even Starbucks at the chic Shopping Leblon in Rio gives you the option of having a real cup! Brazilian coffee is a standard in most coffee shops and in home coffee makers today! 
You can also have an espresso at one of many gourmet coffee shops around town, every shop has its unique charm and lots of different flavors that you can choose from, usually from different parts of Brazil. Every time you order a coffee it will always come with small cookies and different sweet delights to the side!

Gourmet coffee tends to have a range of prices and quality. There are gourmet beans that are offered at grocery stores that are only a step above the regular coffee you would buy and there is the coffee that is so rare and flavorful that they only make a few hundred kilos a year. And that is why café Jacu is a matter of taste. If you are scratching your head over that name, it may be because you have never heard of it. Café Jacu is in fact, one of the rarest coffees out there.
Native to the forests of Espirito Santo Jacu is a seed eating bird about the size of  a chicken. There are two types of Jacu, Rusty-margined Guan and Dusky-legged Guan. Jacu birds are very selective in their feeding, only picking and eating ripe berries. If you collect the droppings from a Jacu, you should have only ripe berries (that makes better coffee). After collected the droppings are dried, cleaned and rested in parchment for an extended period of up to 3 months. It sounds bizarre, but Jacu coffee has regularly won prizes and is one of the most highly prized coffees in the world. I can testify that it makes a very mild, delicious coffee!

If you want to know more about Jacu Bird Coffee go to

Learning how to drink a good coffee is key! Coffee should have a natural sweetness to it. Lots of people cannot drink coffee without sugar, but part of the reason for this is to improve the taste of bad coffee. A properly made espresso will have a natural balanced sweetness to it and there will be less need to reach for the flavour enhancers. The more you drink good coffee the less you feel the need of sugar!

Among the things that make Brazil popular, the quality and selection of our coffee is surely on the top of the list, so if you’re visiting Brazil you should treat yourself to some of the magnificent flavors of coffee that we offer!! 
So grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!!!

Rio 26C°/77F°

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The true story of Blu the blue macaw

In the movie Rio the hero, Blu, and the heroine, Jewel, are the last surviving specimes of the blue macaw. Unless they can mate successfully, their species will die out. Efforts to prevent this dire outcome generate the film's thrills and spills.
Imagine, for a moment, being one of the last of our species…it’s pretty hard! There would be no one else for miles around, and you’d be very lonely!!
That is how it was for Presley, a lone Spix's Macaw living in a Colorado living room. He was one of the last of his kind. This bird was the inspiration for director Carlos Saldanha to make the movie!!

Presley the blue macaw

There has been a lot of buzz about the release of Rio: the Movie, a quirky tale about a hapless macaw and his journey to a new life. What many people do not realize is that this story is based on the real story of Presley, a critically endangered Spix’s Macaw that was found languishing in Colorado in 2002 after the death of his mate.
The story of how he was found and sent back to his native Brazil to meet a new mate is nothing short of miraculous!
The parrot was discovered by accident in Colorado when a woman from a Denver suburb called an avian veterinarian’s office in August. A parrot enthusiast, happened to answer the phone. The woman said she owned a Spix's Macaw and asked for suggestions on how to take care of the bird.

presley (Foto: Fundação Lymington/ Divulgação)

That's the fate of the vanishing species, which went extinct in the wild two years ago. Its numbers were decimated by smugglers, who snatched birds out of the rain forest and smuggled them to sell to wealthy collectors around the world. It’s a trade that outrages animal lovers, and the sight of a Spix's Macaw in a suburban American living room is unbelievable!
In the movie, Blu was unable to fly although he was fully feathered. Presley on the other hand became accustomed to a down low from being clipped.
Presley was estimated to be 25 years old and DNA confirmed to be a Spix's Macaw. After at least a quarter century of captivity in another country, Presley returned home.
At his first stop at the São Paulo zoo the veterinarian said that Presley was doing fine, he was eating well and was very healthy. Officials plan to move him to Recife, where the breeding program is underway. In 15 years, we hope we will be talking about Presley having reproduced! Untill then the bird is living  at the Lymington Foundationm in the state of São Paulo in Brazil.
In some way, he will contribute to the continuation of his species!!


Spix’s have been considered extinct in the wild since 2000, with fewer than 85 birds currently remaining in captivity. You can learn more about the Spix’s Macaw and other endangered parrots at the World Parrot Trust website:

So grab a friend, and go out to watch Rio this weekend. While you are at it, take the time to reflect on the deeper meaning of the movie. Blu and Presley’s stories have happy endings. Let’s make sure that other Spix’s Macaws do, too! Presley’s incredible rescue story is a true inspiration for all.

Rio 25ºC/77°F
Beautiful moon, tomorrow lot's of sun!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Havaianas Wellies

The Brazilian Flip flop experts Havaianas have just launched a rather colourful new range of wellington boots that are well worth a look. Who said wellies have to be boring?

The brand, which is better known for its bright flip flops and Brazilian flag logo, released the Always Summer collection, that will feature eight vibrant colours and patterns, including the "always summer" print, with the Havaiana rice patterned print on the sole of each style. The designs will be available for both men and women and was launched exclusively in the UK this April, with Selfridges Shoe Galleries kicking off the global launch for two weeks over Easter. They cost between £45 and £50.

If you want to know more about Havaianas go to

Rio 29ºC/84ºF
Beautiful sunny day!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Los Caprichos de Goya

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (Spain 1746 - France 1828) Born in rural Aragón in 1746 and educated in Zaragoza, Goya was exposed to the artistic world from an early age. His father was a gilder, working on important projects including the construction of Nuestra Señora del Pilar, one of the largest churches in Europe at the time.

At the end of the 18th century in 1799, Francisco Goya at age of 51, shortly after a serious illness that left him deaf, began to work on a series of 80 etchings known as “Los Caprichos” (the caprices) that influenced artists and writers into the 20th century, particularly the Surrealists.
The images are a blend of two techniques: etching and aquatint. In particular Goya's use of the aquatint process, lend to the images a strong contrast between dark and light that provides a distinctly mysterious and dark quality to the work.

In the  collection, the Aragonese artist offers images satirising the court, the army, and the hypocrisy, ignorance and corruption of the ruling classes.The criticisms are far-ranging and acidic. He speaks against the predominance of superstition, the ignorance and inabilities of the various members of the ruling class, pedagogical short-comings, marital mistakes, and the decline of rationality. Some of the prints have anticlerical themes. Goya was a sharp social satirist!

When first published in 1799, Los Caprichos did not receive a particularly favourable reception. Of the two hundred and forty copies printed, only twenty seven were sold making the project somewhat of a financial disaster. The reason for the complete failure has never been established; however, later correspondence suggests that the rapid withdrawal from sale of the series may have been due to the critical nature of the subject matter provoking the ire of the Inquisition. In  many of the Caprichos he had attacked the practices of this outmoded institution of the middle ages The plates from the series and all unsold copies were eventually donated to the Royal Calcografia in 1803 in return for a pension for the artist's son.
Los Caprichos made him persona non grata in Spain with the inquisition. Spain had become an unhealthy place for Goya to live in. Accordingly, in his late seventies he packed his paints and brushes and move do France to end his days in exile in the city of Bordeaux.

Goya added brief explanations of each image to a manuscript,  these help greatly to explain his often cryptic intentions, as do the titles printed below each image. The informal style, as well as the description of contemporary society found in the collection, makes them  and Goya himself , a precursor to the modernist movement almost a century later.

All 80 of these works are celebrated at a small but perfectly formed free exhibition at the INSTITUTO CERVANTES.
62 Visconde de Ouro preto St in Botafogo neighbourhood.

For further information

Rio 23°C/73°F
Thunder and windy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gisele is launching her own collection for C&A

The Brazilian übermodel Gisele Bündchen is back to C&A. For the first time she’s going to sign three collections to the fast fashion chain. The first collection will be in stores in the first semester of 2011.

This first collection is inspired in Gisele’s lifestyle, clean and very urban with pieces like short jeans, t-shirts, and others more sofisticaded  like blazers, lace skirts and of course shoes!!! The main colors are black and gray!

Signed by her, the next two collections still don’t have a date to be released. The idea is that it will be right before festivity dates. Besides signing the collections she will be the star of the ad campaign. The pictures were taken by Sebastian Kim last Sunday and Monday in São Paulo.

What we don’t know is if her collections will sell in other countries!


Rio 27°C/82°F
Sunny, beautiful day!!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lavradio Market

The coolest antique fair in Rio!!! It takes place every first Saturday of the month at the Lavradio street in Lapa!! You'll be able to see lots of real antique stores with beautiful things, and stands that sell all kinds of jewelry, vintage fashion and handcrafted stuffs! There are also many bars and restaurants in the street where you can grab a nice beer or something to eat and enjoy your day.Plan to stay at least the afternoon. There's also great music!

There you can find the very ancient downtown of Rio, with the authentic Colonial Portuguese architecture.In 1996 a group of antique dealers and shop owners decided to create the Lavradio Market and its success brought a project of restoration and urbanization of the whole area. Since then, the market has attracted many foreigners and locals to enjoy a real eclectic, colorful and fun place!
From furniture and fripperies to art pieces, you can find everything at the stores.Though some of the best items for sale are pricey and not easy to bring back home, such as wonderful early 20th century china cabinets, a bit of perusing is likely to yield some cheaper finds.

The market has developed into a typical carioca street fair, with samba and choro bands providing the entertainment. Cafes and bars sprang up as well and began to stay open after the market finished for those who still in the party mood, which is usually quite a few people in Rio!

There's always different groups playing capoeira. It's a Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, sports, and music. It is known by quick and complex moves, using mainly power kicks and quick leg sweeps, with some ground and aerial acrobatics. Is very fun to watch!!

Make sure to wear confortable clothes and shoes, it’s a very nice place to walk around. To get there  take the bus 464. Is very close from the Arcos da Lapa, just two blocks away. The market hours are from 10am to 7pm.
For further informations

Rio 25°C/74°F

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chacara do Céu Museum

The museum Chácara do Céu, in Santa Teresa, is part of the Castro Maya museums. The other is the Museum do Açude, at the Alto da Boa Vista.  Both were founded by the entrepreneur Raymundo Ottoni de Castro Maya, whom's personal archive is the base of the collections in the two museums. The actual construction, created by the architect Wladimir Alves de Souza in 1954 offers a 360º view of the Bay.   
 the beautiful view from the house           
Raymundo Ottoni de Castro Maya (Paris, France, 1894 - Rio de Janeiro, 1968). Industrialist, Bachelor in Law, patron of the arts, publisher, art collector. Brought up in Rio de Janeiro, Castro Maya, a successful businessman and owner of the Cia. Carioca Industrial, was a defender of the historical, artistic and natural heritage of Rio de Janeiro. An important collector of art in Brazil, between 1920 and 1968, he discovered and acquired almost all of the 22,000 items of his collection, including art works, books and historical documents. This art collection began when his father, the engineer Raymundo de Castro Maya secured canvases by French landscape artists such as Gustave Courbet Louis Bélanger and Henri Rousseau at an auction in Paris at the end of the 19th century.

                              Detail of a Nicolas Antoine Taunay (France, Paris, 1755 - 1830) painting

From 1940 to 1960, he acquired paintings, drawings and engravings by various European artists.

The european art colection has works from Matisse, Degas, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso,  Salvador Dali, Modigliani, Taunay  and Miró, among others. The Brazillian collection has works from Di Cavalcanti, Iberê Camargo, Guignard and the biggest public collection of Cândido Portinari. Other important patrimony is the Brasiliana collection, which includes maps from the XVII and XVIII centuries, and 500 originals of the french painter Jean-Baptiste Debret.The library Castro Maya contains 8.000 titles, and many are first edition!

In 1948, Castro Maya played an active role in the foundation of the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro MAM, of which he was the first chairman. In 1972, after his death, the Chácara do Céu Museum in Rio was opened to the public, occupying a property which he bequeathed to the Foundation. Now it belongs to the Brazilian Institute of Museums (IBRAM).

They usually have different art expositions in the museum. Right now there is a Carybé exposition that celebrates his one hundred anniversary. He was a world famous artist. A painter, illustrator, ceramic artist, and sculptor that was born in Argentina, but chose to be “baiano" (the one who lives in Bahia), the place where he made his home is so strongly represented in his works.  He was naturalized Brazilian and was considered the most Brazilian from the Argentinian artists!

The museum is open every day except for tuesdays from 12am to 5pm.

To get there is very easy, just take the subway to the carioca satation. From there you can either take the cable car to Santa Teresa neighbourhood or take the bus 206 or 214. For both transportations just get off at curvelo station. I'ts a five minute walk. I'm sure you will enjoy it!!!
For further information

Rio 25°C/74°F

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden

A must see if you come to Rio. Plan to spend 3 hours or more here. Cacti section, tall palms, orchids, lake with massive fish... Also enjoy the views up to Christ the Redeemer.
One of the most beautiful and best preserved green areas in the city, the Botanical Garden is an example of the diversity of Brazilian and foreign flora. There are around 6,500 different species of tropical and subtropical plants and trees (some endangered) distributed throughout an area of 54 hectares. Many of the species are in open gardens, however, a large number of plants are housed in greenhouses especially dedicated to plant groups such as bromeliads, orchids, cacti and succulent and carnivorous plants.
It was founded in 1808 by John VI of Portugal. Originally intended for the acclimatisation of spices like nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon imported from the West Indies. The Garden was opened to the public in 1822, and is now open during daylight hours every day except December 25th and the 1st of January. The park was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1992.

There is also a beautiful japonese garden

The Garden is in the south side of the city, easily accessible by public transportation from Ipanema and Copacabana beaches.

Sunny, beautiful day!